Unequal Burdens: Neoliberalism, Colorblindness, and Perceptions of Climate Change in Atlanta, GA translation missing: zh.hyrax.visibility.files_restricted.text

Perez, Clara B (2017)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/tm70mw076?locale=zh
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Abstract

It is well-established that climate change is caused by the release of greenhouse gases from human industrial processes and is reaching a critical point of danger. Similarly well- documented is its disproportionate impact on communities who largely are not responsible for the phenomenon, namely low-income communities of color principally located in peripheral nations. Past work has investigated people's understandings of the science of climate change and limited work has examined people's cultural worldviews in relation to climate change. Little work, however, has been done to investigate the ideological underpinnings of such cultural worldviews, with particular attention to the views of working people of color who exist at the intersections of economic, political, social and environmental harm. I conducted semi-structured, in-depth interviews with 13 working people of color in Atlanta, placing particular emphasis on the construction of climate change as a political, social and economic problem. My data and analysis show how my respondents used and challenged neoliberal and colorblind ideologies to construct the parameters of the problem of climate change, as well as to frame its solutions within ideological boundaries that obscure (although sometimes uncover) the unequal and structural nature of the problem of climate change. I show how a majority of my respondents relied on individualized, colorblind explanations to understand the causes of climate change (such as myths of human greed and deracialized vulnerability) as well as to frame its solutions in ways that obscure the deep structural alterations needed to combat climate change. I also show the ways in which a minority of my respondents centered economic and racial inequality in discussions about climate change. How we understand social problems is central to what we do about them. The narratives of understanding the political, social and economic aspects of climate change shown in these cases ultimately reinforce the inequality and domination inherent in the issue of climate change.

Table of Contents

Introduction.........................................................................................1

Climate Change and Structural Inequality..................................................2

Atlanta and Environmental Justice...................................................2

Global Trends in Environmental Justice.............................................4

Climate Change and Its Structural Roots...........................................7

Perceptions of Climate Change................................................................7

Methods and Methodology......................................................................9

Ideology and Hegemony......................................................................12

Neoliberalism............................................................................15

Colorblind Racism.......................................................................18

Analysis............................................................................................21

Problem-Defining........................................................................24

Solution-Framing........................................................................39

Conclusion.........................................................................................46

Appendix I: Demographic and Thematic Information about Respondents.......48

Appendix II: Interview Guide................................................................50

References.........................................................................................52

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